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The big move - from suburbia to a farm

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  • The big move - from suburbia to a farm

    How do you know that you're ready to take the plunge and buy a little farm? More importantly, how did your husband know?

    I've always wanted to do this, and my husband is slowly coming round. I've done a lot of research over the years - I know it's going to be a steep learning curve and a lot of work.

    I don't want to push my husband into this - he has to really want to.

    The place we're looking at is 10 acres, all pasture, with a lovely 3yo house. Not at all set up for horses but fairly easy to adapt, and pretty easy care. It's less than 20min to both of our workplaces, less than 10min from the edge of town. I have one horse and my friend will loan me some older companion horses in exchange for looking after mine if we go away.

    It's exciting and scary at the same time - it as it's a huge life change - we have a lovely house in suburbia and it's nice doing city things. But this farmette is only 12min drive from nice restaurants, 8min to supermarkets etc. Horse keeping options around here are very limited. My horse is at a very DIY place, after trying 2 other places that offered services that just weren't delivered - so frustrating.

    Financially we'd be ok, and we can afford to pay for people to come in a do some stuff like fencing. DH is an electrician and very handy - he actually likes projects (but not spending 3hrs lawn mowing - this place has very little lawn ).

    Any and all thoughts welcome

  • #2
    There are all ways people enjoy horses in their lives.

    Some like what they can do with horses that others own and care for, or the social life barns can provide with friends to ride with and trainers to learn from all in one place.
    Others love to care for a horse themselves and arrange for other like riding and training secondary to enjoying caring for a horse and land.

    Since you say you have always wanted to go on to care for your horse in your own place yourself and you have a chance now to do so, why not try it and see how you like that kind of life?

    Be sure you provide for other that you enjoy with horses also once on your own, like where to do other with horses, how to find trainers if you are training and competing, etc.

    Glad that DH is on board with changing lifestyles and will be helping with the care of the new place.
    Good to provide also for what he likes, like not spending time mowing.
    Now, remember, if you have pastures, you may have to mow them at times, yard is not the only place you have to mow when you have land to care for.

    I bet you both will find much to enjoy in your new life on a farm with horses.
    You won't know until you try it.
    For those that like it, is priceless.


    • #3
      less than 10min from the edge of town.
      I suspect it will only be a few years that this will be reduced to zero minutes, so with that possibility in mind make your site plan with the intent to protect your privacy. You may want to add screening now so that the growth will be sufficient,


      • #4
        My husband n I just bought a 3.63 acre place after looking at it off n on for 2 years. The guy sold of the other 3 acres which made the price point in our range finally lol. It's older though, a 50's rambling ranch with an apple orchard on the side!! : ) One of the biggest perks for him was that the basement is the same size as the house, and he could set it up anyway he wants for his man cave, he's already got a projection screen, old school arcade game and a pool table set up in it. Plus anything we do to the main part of the house will be resale improvements for when we both retire and move to Florida! It's closer to his mom who is our main babysitter/watch our daughter when she's out of school or on breaks because we both work full time. Does this farmette's house have anything that would really appeal to your husband along those lines, or a home office/entertainment area? Mine HATES mowing, but I keep telling him the sooner we get the fence up, the sooner over half the yard is gone! Does it have any creeks or a well on it that you could explain would lower your water bill with horses? Mine is an electrician too and we are already talking about ways to run power to the little carport barn we have and how to pump water discretely from the creek for the pony and companion I'll have. I'm in the same boat as you as far as only having one pony, and my friend is going to lend me company for him depending on who she doesn't have working or in training at the time. Good luck with everything it sounds like a great opportunity!


        • #5
          Some of the major problems of moving to acreage you have signaled won’t be a problem (like the commute or finding employment or finding an electrician!!!). What is left to consider is if you want to enjoy what you love now while you are still able.

          Issues you may run into: stray dogs, dog abandonments, coyotes, city people using your roads for ATV and motorbike amusement and firearm discharging... off the top of my head.

          Good luck. I hope it works out for the best for you both. I believe horses really love a little acreage to do their thing with mom close by.
          Caring for Clifford, my big red dog and assorted monkeys, I mean goats. Protected by a few loyal Anatolian Shepherd Dogs and Kangals.


          • #6
            I did the suburbia to farm move two and a half years ago (sans hubby, but have one now). It was a huge adjustment and steep learning curve, but I wouldn't trade it for anything. The proximity you're describing to suburban conveniences and work isn't something you can get in a lot of areas - it sounds like a dream to me! It took me a year to find the right place for me, so all of the planning and research you have done and will do is well worth it.

            And if expansion is happening in your city/town, your land value will only increase! If you're not loving the farm life in five years a developer may want the land for a neighborhood or other development. So not just a short term savings, but a long-term investment!
            Brand Loyal
            BLM Mustangs: Smokey, Dollar, & Tanner
            BLM Burros: Radar & Ping


            • #7
              Feliz IMHO, as you are already in the burbs, going rural won't be a major change for your lifestyle.
              Like clanter said, rural can turn to burbs quickly.
              It sure has here!
              What was one flagged lot when I moved here is now 4 different subdivisions. Many of the fields are now strip malls or yet more subdivisions.
              Fortunately, zoning prohibits development on less than 10ac & my closest neighbors are all on acreage too small for that type of development.

              I moved from a BIG city (pop. 2.8 million) to my farmette - 5ac - in a small town (pop. 22K).
              Biggest adjustment was loss of my ability to walk to much shopping or entertainment.
              Out here, driving anywhere is mandatory.

              That said, if you've never cared for horses 24/7/365 there will be a learning curve.
              But, this Urbanite of 30+ years made the change & I was in my early 50s when I did. That was 15yrs ago.

              People will tell you that you become hostage to the farm.
              Not so.
              In those 15yrs I manage to take a vacation at least annually.
              Anything from a long weekend to trips to Europe, Japan & China. Last big trip was 7 days in Spain - that was in 2013.
              I retired that year & SSI as sole income may have curtailed major travel, but never affected my standards of horse care for the 2 I've always had.
              #3, added in 2017.

              In all these years, I've gone through 3 farmsitters.
              All competent.
              1 went back to school, another had too many clients & I was the newest so got cut when she had to downsize.
              Current is a guy who works at & is part owner of my local feedstore.

              My barn is setup so horses have access to stalls if they want, open to pastures if they don't.
              So even a non-horseperson can feed & water.

              You might find your horse does fine without a companion.
              Do you have Plan B in case your loaned horses & yours do not get along?

              My TB was never kept by himself.
              Went from ponying at the track, to 15yrs of boarding barns, then home with my #2 horse.
              When I took #2 away, whether for a day trailride, or a weekend camping, farmsitters never reported any anxious behavior from Home Alone.
              OTOH, when TB had to overnight at the vet clinic, #2 spent the evening walking the fenceline & calling.
              If your horse seems unhappy solo, consider a retired horse, fostering rescues or another companion animal.

              Your potential farm sounds lovely.
              Have you priced putting up a run-in or barn?
              May induce sticker shock
              My barn gets used as a run-in.
              Sometimes I find all 3 - 16h horse, 13h pony & 34" mini - sharing a single 12X12 stall.
              They each have a stall & sort themselves out when I feed.
              So you may get by with no barn as long as you put up some sort of shelter.

              Good Luck with making the move ​​​​​​​
              *friend of bar.ka*RIP all my lovely boys, gone too soon:
              Steppin' Out 1988-2004
              Hey Vern! 1982-2009, Cash's Bay Threat 1994-2009
              Sam(Jaybee Altair) 1994-2015


              • #8
                If saddle time is important to you, consider if you can ride off or on the property. If there is no existing arena, those can be expensive to build, even an outdoor arena. It depends if you need drainage or not. If you are lucky, you can just plow up some sandy soil and ride in that, but if you need drains, drainage rock, sublayer, and top layer, you can easily run to $50,000. And while pastures are lovely to meander through, they can be tricky to school in or even canter in, depending on how much you trust the grass clumps and gopher holes.

                And much rural land is actually "landlocked." There might be a nice trail head a mile away, but the roads to get there are far too dangerous to drive down (ditches alongside the roads, and big pickup trucks going fast). If you only want to haul out on weekends, that's fine, but if you want to ride every day, it might actually be hard on some rural properties.

                Also if you are in a developing area, you might have hacking opportunities (for instance on fallow farmland awaiting development) that disappear over time. Or a quiet deadend street might turn into a 4 lane access road to a new subdivision up the hill.


                • #9
                  What 2DogsFarm said

                  I also did it sans hubby or financial help from a SO, I sold my in town house I'd had for 8ish years, and lived in an RV for 9.5 months while I had my house built (permitting is a bitch on an island).

                  The only difference is I've lived on farms before and I'm a bit of homebody already. I lived on a small place with my biomom two times and was the BM of her huge place (but lived off site), and then when I made my mad escape into a marriage that took me far away, we also bought a farm. After the divorce and sale, I set everything up to slowly work back to owning again, solo if necessary, and it took less than 10 years to be back on a farm on nine acres of island heaven. It's slow on a single income and I'm just now gathering quotes for an arena after two years of the horses being home. You WILL experience sticker shock here and there, trust me . Best advice tho?? Set it up with an eye to the future. Think about resale. Also... more outlets and spigots than you think you'll ever need (like double), and get friendly with your local Extension agent or Water Conservation guys before doing fence .

                  Despite being a homebody, I manage an annual weeklong vaca with my SO (who is allergic to everything (horses, dogs, hay, flowers) and doesn't live with me).

                  And have fun!!!
                  COTH's official mini-donk enabler

                  "I am all for reaching out, but in some situations it needs to be done with a rolled up news paper." Alagirl


                  • #10
                    Originally posted by clanter View Post
                    I suspect it will only be a few years that this will be reduced to zero minutes, so with that possibility in mind make your site plan with the intent to protect your privacy. You may want to add screening now so that the growth will be sufficient,
                    This is great advice. Another way to prepare for this is to develop your property to maintain its appeal to as wide a buyer pool as possible, in case you have to sell due to suburban encroachment, not enjoying the lifestyle, or whatever other reason. For example, instead of building a barn that is really tailored to house horses, you could put in a more multipurpose, open building and then build stalls inside. Buyer appeal might also influence what kind of fencing you install and where you place run-in shelters. Just something else to think about!
                    Building and Managing the Small Horse Farm:


                    • #11
                      but the roads to get there are far too dangerous to drive down
                      our horses became road wise very, very fast

                      oldest daughter and friend were out on the river levee riding when her friend fell off, our little mare was said to look at her on the ground, then looked at my daughter saying I Had Nothing To Do With That, mare turn then started home...which was a couple of miles through town, across a four lane major highway.

                      Along her way she picked up a police car which followed her all the way into the drive. The police officer said It Appeared She Knew Where she wanted to go and she never broke any law as she used the crosswalks, checking for traffic before setting foot on the road, said she even looked both ways

                      We are in the middle of some three million people, two million have moved in since we bought this place.


                      OP, one thing you may want to do is draw a master plan for your property. We kind of did that but it would have been nice to really have had laid out just what we want before actually building.

                      One thing that we did was plant a wind break on the north side which now provides a comfortable place for the horses in the winter.


                      • #12
                        This was me 20 years ago, including borrowing an older companion horse from my friend...! DH said that if we ever wanted to get some land and build our place, now was the time to do it (in our 40's). We built our house, then the barn, then the sacrifice pasture, then the big pastures, then the sheds/tack room, more sheds, etc. We absolutely LOVE it. DH is not a horse guy but loves the farm lifestyle and is very handy.

                        If your DH likes projects then he will have them to keep him busy for years..... My favorite times are when we work on a project all day, such as putting in a grid and mats in my small shed, then sitting down with a drink to discuss everything while enjoying the view!

                        The place you describe sounds wonderful! I do know that DH was right about our age as now at 60, there is no way, we could do now what we did before. I just don't have the same strength or energy. Good luck!


                        • #13
                          Design everything so it is easy. My barn is used like a run in shed. They come and go at will. This minimizes my mucking and means I am not bringing horses in and out in pouring rain. Get good fencing so escapes are rare. Consider a double gate system so that if a horse dashes through the gate as a hay truck pulls in, the horse can’t get out to the road. Find someone who will mow for you or buy a nice tractor. Think about if you need a horse trailer.

                          enjoy your farm.


                          • Original Poster

                            Thanks for everyone's thoughts

                            I'm not sure why I thought asking on a horse forum about buying a farm to house horses was going to tell me not to do it . FYI we're not in North America.

                            Currently my horse lives at a completely DIY place - I get a paddock to manage however I like (no stables). Sprayed for weeds about once a year and that's it. I trailer out to my trainer regularly already.

                            My husband really wanted somewhere with a big garage/workshop space so he can tinker with his bikes. This place has a pretty standard double garage but I suggested he can just get a little lined/insulated cabin put right outside the garage. He's pretty happy with this - though I suspect he won't need it - there's plenty of storage in the house so garage won't be full of stuff. There's a lovely room for his office

                            The only reason this is even being considered is because it's so close to town/work - DH was non-negotiable on that. We love being able to cycle on a river path to cafes for lunch in the weekend - while it's not quite as easy there is actually a cycle path about halfway to town.

                            Our friends who have farms aren't hostage to them - they just need to be set up right. It's a mild climate so many/most horses live out 24/7. I'm planning to put in at least shelters - I've been doing lots of research on costs - though DH keeps looking and saying "oh I could build that". I keep reminding him that he doesn't want a farm

                            There are two big paddocks suitable for riding 9mths a year. It's on a no exit road and joins a fairly quiet one so lots of road riding. There's a covered arena about 20min hack/2 min drive away that I can hire.

                            I'm definitely hearing everyone on planning & laying it out in the best possible way. It's essentially a rectangle with the house on the short side so fairly straight forward - plus it's pretty flat. There are a few things that need to be done immediately - like some kind of tie up area - but we'd wait a few months and see how it was all working before starting too much more.

                            We're in our 40s and I'm definitely having a "now or never" feeling - plus both having good jobs in a location that makes this possible. We moved here from a much bigger city 18mths ago and have loved the change (except for the total lack of quality horse keeping options!)


                            • #15
                              I made the move 24 years ago, starting with a 4.23 acre farm and 12 years later purchasing 42.3 acres. I joke that we really just moved the decimal point! I was living in a town-house and boarding 4 horses with 4 more on the way, as I stumbled into breeding when I bought my second horse in foal, and soon realized I couldn't afford to board all. It was a scary transition, despite the fact I had owned horses for 12 years. I remember my poor husband the first night all were home begging me to turn off the three-way lights from kitchen to barn, but I think I checked on the mares every 15 minutes! For me the decision was as simple as it was complex - few boarding stables in the area could accommodate the needs of foaling mares as most were performance oriented with great riding facilities but no broodmare experience or appropriate turnout facilities. I also wanted my hands on the foals immediately, and a more bio-safe environment that most boarding stables allowed for vulnerable newborns. We were fortunate to find first a small rancher with suitable land to pasture, then a working farm, only 15 minutes from the interstate so a reasonable commute to work, groceries, etc. It was a leap, for certain, but I have no regrets (although I may add that I am divorced - although the horses were likely not the cause!) and 2 1/2 decades later I can honestly say I can now sleep through the night (except at foaling time) and not throw that switch every few minutes to count heads. (Now I have cameras in the barn, instead!)


                              • #16
                                There are so many pros and cons and they've probably all been written about on COTH.

                                Two things that sometimes get overlooked:

                                If you can, build a perimeter hacking path around your entire property. It will give vehicle access for service/mowing/tree care etc. and is nice to ride on if you want. a 10 or 12' wide path works fine.

                                And if you do still ride quite a bit, decide if you will miss your barn buddies if you're coming from a boarding situation. Some folks just want peace and quiet with their horses, while others really like having a few people around to hang out with at the barn, ride together, etc.

                                If you're a social horse person, but do want a home place, think about planning for a couple boarders- two or three horse gals that you can get along with that don't make you a hard-core boarding stable, but do provide some friends to horse around with. There are pros and cons to this too, but at least recognizing how important or unimportant riding friends are can make a big difference on your facility planning.

                                No idea where you live but it sounds wonderful!


                                • #17
                                  DH and I always planned to get a farm when I retired from the military. When I got sent to a horsey area, we decided to rent a small farmette for the couple of years to see if we liked it. We found a place with a small house, about 5 acres in pastures, and a 3-stall center aisle barn. After less than a year, we not only decided we liked the lifestyle, we decided to buy a place there. We found a 15-acre farm just outside of the in-demand/in-town area, and never looked back. We currently have 9 horses and have learned a lot.

                                  There are lots of threads on the pros/cons of farm ownership. I love having the horses out the front window, and the peace of mind of being able to manage all aspects of their care. If your DH is on board and it's something you've always wanted to do, it's worth trying. Educate yourselves ahead of time and be prepared for setbacks, frustrations, and horse/health challenges. But also be prepared to get to know your horse(s) at a much deeper level, appreciating a clean barn with deep shavings in the stalls, and fresh water and hay, and the sound of horses happily chewing and waffling your hair while you feed carrots at night check. Be prepared for physically hard work, and financial creativity. Be prepared for fun and job satisfaction. Be prepared for an adventure!
                                  A good man can make you feel sexy, strong, and able to take on the world.... oh, sorry.... that's does that...



                                  • #18
                                    You mentioned your DH doesn't like mowing but you don't have much lawn; however, you do have 10 acres of pasture that will need to be mowed occasionally. You will need access to a bigger tractor and a brush hog or finish mower to accomplish this.

                                    One thing you will find is the need for equipment. We had 10 acres so a tractor was necessary, a brush hog and later a finish mower, and other assorted pieces of farm implements. Before you take the plunge, factor the cost of fencing, barn to include electric and water. Check and recheck zoning requirements and permits that may be needed for building barn and/or workshops. Remember, out buildings don't necessarily add value to your property, something to keep in mind for the future if selling might come up.

                                    Personally, I'd be looking for property already set up for horses, in the end it is cheaper and a lot less stress and headache.

                                    Good luck with your move.


                                    • #19
                                      Check and recheck zoning requirements and permits that may be needed for building
                                      building anything these days, Being within a city we even are supposed to obtain permits for a or to repair...but these are the same people who when called about come and get the neighbor'd goats out of my pasture are unresponsive


                                      • #20
                                        Is there a decent resale value to horse property in the area you're looking at? If there is, consider it, but if resale could take forever, then don't do it. If you go into this, and then decide you don't want to do this any longer, you need to be able to sell.
                                        You can't fix stupid-Ron White